Further Thoughts on the Trinity
I am a trinitarian in a faith community that is ambivalent about the Trinity. This is nothing new. Thomas and Alexander Campbell were trinitarians, but especially Alexander was loath to use the term. He offered up that it wasn't a biblical term, and had proven divisive. Barton Stone, on the other hand, was fairly vocal in his rejection of the whole idea, finding it rather illogical. So this ambivalence became part of our denominational genetic material. While there is this ambivalence, I'm not alone in my trinitarianism. I can count two theologians of the preceding generation (both retired from teaching theology at Christian Theological Seminary). Joe Jones and Clark Williamson have their theological differences, and I will count myself closer to Joe than Clark, but I have found both of them to be thoughtful and provocative theologians.
In the course of working on a piece regarding the Trinity for a Disciples of Christ audience I found Clark Williamson's reflections on the Trinity in conversation with the story of the encounter of the three visitors with Abraham and Sarah at the Oaks of Mamre as pictured in Rublev's icon to be enlightening (Genesis 18:1-15). Clark draws on this story that emphasizes hospitality to suggest that “the Trinity is a communion of equal persons (coequal, the tradition liked to say), and we are invited into such communion.” He goes on to say:
We speak of God as one in order to make clear that God is not divided, not double-minded. We speak of God as three to affirm communion in God. Life is a blessing and well-being when all relations of domination and oppression are expelled. Communion among persons is the divine order and the intended human order of well-being. The fundamental intent of the doctrine of the Trinity is to protect an understanding of God as a profound relational communion. A relationship (not merely a relation) of authentic communion among God, human beings, and all God’s creatures is the aim of God’s work in the world. It also calls radically into question and theologically undercuts, although hardly defeats, all human political and social arrangements that would subordinate women to men, Jews to Christians (as Christendom did in many ways, not the least through canon and secular law), one race to another, two-thirds of the hungry world to the one-third that is comfortable. [Williamson, Way of Blessing, pp. 126-127].
As Clark lays this out, not only is there differentiation within God's nature (thus God is not a solitary monad), but this is a communion of equal persons. This is not a hierarchy of persons. The question for us is this -- how might such an understanding of God, or better yet participation in the triune nature of God transform our own experiences of human community? .